Marriage, especially for women, was an integral part of life in Georgian England. Indeed, unmarried women faced financial hardship and were considered unfortunate ‘old maids’ if they remained single. However, the entire process, from the courtship to the wedding day, was determined by the social class of the couple.
In my family, as I was growing up, Easter Sunday brought the prospect of a chocolate feast to look forward to, as well as attending church. Later on, as a teenager, I remember that Chocolate Oranges became an alternative favourite for both my dad and myself, especially if we were away from the home on holiday as these particular confectionery delights were so much more easily packed in our luggage than a breakable Easter egg.
The Victorians loved their theatrical stars, and, like today, the newspapers would breathlessly tell their readers about the latest ‘pet’ actress, publishing sketches or photos of them, and offering titbits of salacious gossip. However, trying to get a full picture of those actresses whose careers were relatively short is tricky, and researching them can be both rewarding and frustrating. One case in point is that of Kate Everleigh, a Victorian actress, comedienne and singer, who fascinated and amused audiences in both Britain and America in the 1870s and 1880s.
Sylvia Pankhurst’s father told his children ‘If you do not work for others, you will not have been worth the upbringing’ and the great socialist Beatrice Webb made it clear in her autobiography that by the end of the 19th century ‘the idea of service had been transferred from God to man.’ In other words, long before 1919, when legislation made it possible for women to become lawyers or county sheriffs, a steady pressure for reform in this area had long been in progress as women were increasingly involved in social work.
Recently one of my children told me about a David Attenborough documentary that mentioned a rhinoceros called Clara which toured Europe in the 18th century, and ultimately died in London. This piqued my curiosity – surely there must be accounts of her British visit? Glenys Ridley’s book Clara’s Grand Tour tells this whole story, but alas the final London leg is only mentioned in advertisements (“To be seen at the Horse and Groom in Lambeth Marsh”), and a later German poster sadly appends: “It is 21 years old, and died in London on 14 April 1758.”
TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer, the unique resource for researchers to turn to when searching for an ancestor’s landholding whether owned or simply occupied, has been boosted with the significant addition of georeferenced tithe maps for Anglesey, Durham, Devon, Shropshire, Somerset, Suffolk and Wiltshire.
Following the surge in medieval wool production and exports, in Tudor England wool was an unrivalled commodity, generating great wealth, especially for individual entrepreneurs. The raw wool trade was controlled by powerful merchants – the broggers and staplers – while simultaneously capitalist employers – the clothiers – challenged the old, protectionist medieval guild system by organising the manufacture and distribution of woollen cloth. Continental workers continually arrived in Britain, including Protestant Dutch, Huguenot and Walloon weavers fleeing religious persecution in the 16th century. Their skill in producing lightweight, attractive textiles (called the ‘new draperies’) from combed wool (worsteds) revived the economies of towns like Colchester and Norwich, the latter home to 4,000 ‘aliens’ by 1572.
After the Romans left, small Celtic kingdoms arose in Yorkshire. An army of Danish Vikings invaded Northumbrian territory in 866 AD. The Danes conquered what is now York and renamed it Jórvík, making it the capital city of a new Danish kingdom under the same name, the only truly Viking territory established on mainland Britain. The division of Yorkshire into three historic ‘Ridings’ (North, East and West) was made by the Danes (South Yorkshire is a modern division, split off from the West Riding in 1972).
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